It’s all well and good to understand the basics of photography, including composition, technique, and the equipment and camera settings required to create a “good” photo – but that’s not all. In order to create really dynamic images you need to create a connection with your subject, one that whomever views your photos can easily see.
Fortunately, as a parent you already have an emotional connection with your child, so taking portraits of your kids will naturally have this type of connection as opposed to photographing a stranger, but learning how to create emotionally-charged images can help you take your photography to the next level. Here are some pointers to get you started:
Turn off your camera
Taking photos is all well and good, but after a time you start to only see what’s visible through the lens. It also cuts you off from your subject as you are only interacting with them behind your camera. Putting down the camera can help you to see the scene differently.
What’s it about?
Ask yourself what your photo is really about – if your immediate answer is “my child” then you really need to work on taking it an extra step. What are you really trying to capture? It could be something abstract like joy or contemplation, or it could be a physical event (scoring a goal). It could also be something more environmental like a day at the park or zoo. Once you understand what the photo is about you can work to make your photo reflect what you are trying to capture.
Parents tend to plan their photo shoots in the following manner:
“My child is doing something / we are somewhere interesting”
“I’ll grab my camera”
Photo is taken
There is little planning and forethought put into the process. A little planning can go a long way to creating really dynamic images, such as finding areas of contrast, planning what your child will wear to complement the scene, including a prop, or finding a way to have your child pose naturally to create a more interesting composition. Don’t just point and shoot – plan ahead.
Determine your output
What will this photo be used for? This is something that should be determined prior to the photo shoot, not after. Not much planning is required if the photo will shared online, but if you are planning to print it or adjust it (such as converting to black and white) then some forethought will give you a better final image. Printed images require a much larger format than a .jpg file that sits on your computer, so increase your image size and quality before you take the image.
Hopefully these tips will really help you to create powerful images that connect your child to the photo; so that people who see the final image can really see what you are trying to create. Best of luck!If you’re shooting for black and white you can of course take the image first and then convert (so you have the option of a color version as well), but you may want to shoot a few trial images in camera as black and whites so you can see how the final version will turn out. As always, shooting in RAW format will give you much more flexibility with editing when you are ready.